How to prepare banana flower ?

For some,cooking banana flower can be messy if you slice the flower before it is steamed or boiled.My recipes save you from all the messy steps.Before touching on the recipes,just a few things we need to know about the banana flower.

The banana flower is the blossom hanging at the end of the stem or inflorescence.It consists of layers of crimson colour bracts with rows of yellow florets lying in between the bracts.Each floret has a plastic-like stamen with a black and hard stigma at the end.The banana flower is the male part hanging at the end of the clusters of bananas.

It is called Jantung Pisang in Malay.


Wild banana flower
Flower of wild banana a.k.a pisang hutan

Only flowers of pisang keling,pisang otel,pisang kipas,pisang kapok and pisang hutan are used.Flowers cut from other type of bananas are too bitter.Ornamental banana flowers are small and not edible.Notice that their flowers pointing upward so as the wild banana flowers.The wild banana flowers are big and edible.Both are beautiful flowers.Banana flower is rich in potassium as shown in the table at the end of this page.

Pisang bunga,the ornamental banana.Notice the upward pointing flower same as the wild banana.
Pisang bunga,the ornamental banana.Notice the upward pointing flower same as the wild banana.

In some recipes,you are required to peel the outer mini petals and the stigmas from the florets one by one,a preparation process not practised in Sarawak for that matter.


Left -  Steamed banana flower. Right - Fibrous bracts,mature florets with plastic-like stamens and stigmas are discarded.
Left – Steamed banana flower.
Right – Fibrous bracts and mature florets with plastic-like stamens and stigmas are discarded.

What our natives do is just peel off the outer bracts and cook the tender bracts and undeveloped florets nearer the heart of the flower.They slice or cut the flower into halves or quarters just before boiling and cook immediately for at least 20 minutes.

Shown here is another way of preparing banana flower.Steam the banana flower for 30 minutes prior to cooking.This is to avoid the bracts from being oxidized and turn black due to contact with air after cutting.Slice the flower only after it is steamed.

Left  - Sliced banana flower Right - Kerabu bunga pisang served in bababa flower bracts
Left – Sliced banana flower
Right –  Banana flower served in banana flower bracts
Preparing the banana flower for the recipe.
  1. Peel off some outer bracts to be used as ‘plates’ for serving the dish.Wash the bracts carefully and dip dry.
  2. Steam the whole blossom for at least 30 minutes or grill the flower for 20 minutes until the outer bracts are nicely charcoaled.
  3. Let cool and peel off fibrous bracts and mature florets.
  4. Keep only the tender bracts,undeveloped florets and the heart of the flower.At this stage,the flower looks like artichoke.

Steamed banana flower is to be sliced for cooking.

Here are two recipes simplified here to share with our viewers.


Banana flower stir-fried with potatoes
Banana flower stir-fried with potatoes
Banana flower stir-fried with potatoes
  • 1  banana flower
  • 2  potatoes-diced
  • 2  dry chillies – seeded and sliced thinly
  • 2 tbs thick soya source
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp pepper powder
Cooking the banana flower
  1. Fry the diced potatoes until slightly brown.
  2. Add  1 cup of water and dry chillies.Simmer till the potatoes are well done.
  3. Add the sliced banana flower and 2 tbs of  thick soya source.
  4. Finally,add 1 tsp of brown sugar and pepper powder.
  5. Serve in banana bracts.

    Kerabu bunga pisang served in banana bract
    Banana flower in thick soya source

 Banana flower in thick soya source

  • 1 banana flower
  • 2 tbs lime juice
  • 4 tbs thick soya source
  • 3 tbs brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup roasted groundnut – coarsely ground
  • 1 chilli padi – seeded and thinly sliced
  1. Steam the banana flower for 30 minutes.
  2. Peel off more fibrous bracts and discard florets with plastic-like stamens and stigmas.
  3. Slice the banana flower thinly.
  4. Prepare the source by mixing all the ingredients together.
  5. Serve the dish in the selected bracts.
  6. Sprinkle groundnuts on top.

 This dish is similar to the local kerabu,a simplified one,that is.Sliced mangoes,cucumbers and half ripen papaya can be added to the dish.

Bunga pisang kirin with crimson colour bracts and rows of florets.
Bunga pisang keling with crimson colour bracts and rows of florets.

There are Indian recipes for banana flower fritters and Thai recipe for banana flower salad.Most malays would cook Kerabu bunga pisang.Kerabu is local salad in which lime juice,coconut milk,kerisik,spices and herbs are added to the main ingredients.

Ulam is another choice for bunga pisang.Ulam is a local dish in which the raw or blanched vegetables or fruits are served with a paste of belacan,lime juice and chillies.

2signedImage (7)
Nutritional value of Bunga Pisang gentu (Musa hirta),the wild banana flower

Try your hands on this recipe.It would be fun to mess around with banana flower.

Enjoy cooking!

 p/s A facebook friend wrote a comment about the health benefits of banana flower.Please check the content in my comment.

How to cook durian flowers ?

Durian flowers,anyone? This is an eye-opening dish for people outside Sarawak.I am not sure whether Sabahan and Brunei people do cook durian flowers as vegetable but for some people, it is a dish probably unheard of.As for the Kalimantan side,I am quite sure they too,enjoy this wonderful flowers as vegetables as we do .In Chinese is Liu lian hua (榴櫣花)。


Fresh durian flowers.
Fresh durian flowers.

Some interesting facts about the durian flowers:

The genus Durio has about 30 species of which 19 are native to Borneo ( known to be original centre of diversity),11 to Peninsular Malaya and 7 to Sumatra.The most common durian sold in the markets is the durio zibethinus.

Durian tree blooming flowers
Durian tree in full bloom in my friend’s garden.

The durian tree has straight trunk and horizontal upper branches.Durian flowers are borne along big branches.Durian flowers buds appear in clusters of  2 – 45 flowers  over a period of 3 -4 weeks during dry season.The flowers are mostly greenish white or yellowish in color.Flowers of the wild durian ukak (durio kutejenis) are bright crimson in color.Its fruits are bright orange in color.


The floor full of durian flowers
The floor  is fully covered by durian flowers.Notice the mats placed under the tree.

The flowers blossom in the evening and at night, all flower parts fall to the ground except the pistil.We do not pluck the flowers but wait for them to fall on its own.The flowers are pollinated by fruit bats(Eonycteris Spelea).I was asked by my friend to collect flowers in the morning,as early as 6pm,and went back in the afternoon at 5 pm to take pictures with my silly point and shoot.Luckily there were some lower branches with lots of flowers dangling,otherwise I would end up with blur pictures for this post.

Notice the mats placed under the tree in the picture above.They are not for dating.

Just imagine one romantic scenario in a Malaysian movie plot,Namewee’s style i.e., two lovers decide to spend a romantic night underneath a blooming durian tree and wake up in the morning with creamy yellow durian flowers as blankets on their bodies.How romantic! But the reality is ,they will be bitten all over by the ants,mosquitoes and probably snakes !

Usually people in Sarawak collect durian flowers very early in the morning,as early as 5 am because the flowers will turn yellow and appear less fresh under the hot sun.

A cluster of durian flowers dangling from a branch
A cluster of durian flowers dangling from a branch.

 The durian flower buds are enveloped by the pale green ,leaf-like epicalyx which cover all the flower parts before the flowers blossom.When the flowers blossom,the flower parts revealed are the yellowish calyx,the five creamy yellow petals ,five bundles of stamens and a pistil.The calyx are crown-like,having 5 yellowish green sepals fused at their bases.

The edible stamen bundles consists of many fused and branched filaments having numerous anthers.Each filament within bundles is fused at its base.The pistil consists of an orange stigma at the end and an ovary at its base.At night ,all flower parts fall to the ground except the pistil with an orange stigma.

A single durian flower showing the single pistil with orange stigma.

 Harvesting durian flowers is fun but have to be careful with all the insect bites.I had sweet memory of harvesting durian flowers with my late aunt.We stayed overnight in a small tilted hut(3′ X 6′) called langkou in Iban and waited for durian flowers to fall.By the time I woke up,not much left for me.Actually the langkou was meant for durian season but collecting durians was too risky for kids so I was grateful to her for giving me the chance to spend one night under the giant homegrown durian tree.

The crimson coloured flowers of the wild durian
The crimson coloured flowers of the wild durian

Durian flowers season falls on the month of August or September.They appear suddenly in the markets and disappear within one week.For those who seldom go to markets, they might miss the durian flower season and have to wait for the next season to come.They come and go in a hurry and not easy to catch them in time.Three months after the durian flower season will be the durian fruit season.Durian flowers do not taste and smell like durian fruits.They are crunchy with a tinge of fragrance and sweetness.

A heap of durian flowers to be picked carefully.Notice the pale green flower stalks.This may take 1 hour unless you have more hands .


Most of the durian trees in Kuching area are homegrown.Collecting durian flowers from big orchards is not a wise move,especially those which are near oil palm plantations,unless they are labeled as organic farms.

Picking durian flowers is a tedious job.A heap of flowers may take hours to finish picking.That is why they are not served in restaurants here in Sarawak.During peak seasons of durian flowers,some fast food cafes,including the vegetarian cafes,do sell durian flowers in curry or sambal belacan.



Left-Retain only the petals and the filaments without the anthers.Right – Discard the cup-like calyx,the leaf-like sepals, brown durian flowers and the flower stalks.
Preparing the durian flowers

Durian flowers cannot be cooked right away.There is a tedious process to be done before cleaning the flowers.Do not wash the flowers immediately after collecting from the gardens.First task to complete is to remove the anthers from the stamens.Just wipe off the anthers from the stamens with finger tips.Discard all the flower parts except the stamens and the creamy yellow petals.

Usually we need extra hands to help otherwise we will end up spending at least 1 hour just to pick the flowers.Most people would pick only the stamens and do not bother to pick the tiny,curly petals.Failure to wipe off the anthers completely from the filaments will end up a slimy dish instead of a crunchy one.

Next step is to blanch the durian flowers,then rinse  thoroughly,drain them and keep in the fridge.It can last for about 3-5 days in the fridge.Can we keep it in the freezer ? No, unless you want the flowers to turn rubbery and tasteless.It tastes best on the same day of the harvest.

Durian flowers in sambal belacan



Durian flowers in sambal balacan

  • 20-30 g vegetarian belacan – made from fermented soya beans (can be replaced by 2-3 tsp of miso)
  • 3 dried chilies – minced(OR 1 tsp of chili powder)
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 3 shallots – sliced(optional for Buddhist and Hari Krishna vegetarians)
  • 3 stalks of lemon grass( serai) – crushed
  • 300 g picked durian flowers – blanched and rinsed under the tap
  • 1/2 tsp mushroom powder
  • 3 tbs of oil(more or less)
  1. Blend the shallots,belacan,chilies and curry powder together.Add water to form a paste.
  2. Fry the belacan paste until fragrant.
  3. Add in the durian flowers and serai.
  4. Stir fry for a while and add some water.
  5. The last step is to add the mushroom powder and salt to taste.

Quick stir-fry this way will ensure you a super dish of crunchy durian flowers.Enjoy its unique texture and exotic flavour.

Durian flowers as vegetable,as exotic as ever !















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Telur tebu (Sugar Cane Flower) , the Fijian Asparagus

Telur tebu or tebu telur,the Fijian asparagus a.k.a duruka in the Fiji islands.

It is also known as terubuk in Indonesia ,bunga tebu or tebu kerdil.Its Chinese name is 甘蔗花。

Its scientific name is saccharum edule hasskarl.


Telur tebu
Telur tebu

 Telur tebu looks like baby corn and has natural sweetness of sweet corn, even their leaves too look alike.Telur tebu or the vegetable cane is very common in the pacific islands especially on the Fijian Islands.Wild varieties are also found in this area.Telur tebu found in South East Asia are mostly cultivated.

To cook them one have to remove the sheaths and carefully take out the fish egg look-alike, crumbly flowers inside.The unopened flower heads called telur tebu can be eaten raw with tomato sauce or cook in soup.

Mature telur tebu
Mature telur tebu

The picture below shows telur tebu plants along the roadside in my neighborhood.Notice the thin stems of this variety of sugar cane and this differentiate it from the medicinal plant ‘Ma Cao’.Besides the thin stems,telur tebu and ‘ma cao’ do look very much alike.The difference lies in their stems.Ma cao stem is like bamboo whereas telur tebu stem is sugar cane stem.Their flowers are also different.The dwarf,edible Ma cao is Pennisetum purpureum cv.Mott.

Telur tebu plants in my neighbour's garden
Left-Telur tebu plants in my neighbour’s garden.       Right-Telur tebu ready for harvesting in my garden

The best way to cook it is to cook it in thick soup with pumpkin or tomatoes.The creamy soup of pumpkin blends very well with the soft yet dry telur tebu.

It tastes best in simple dish.Spicy ingredients would cover its natural sweetness.It goes well with sweet corn and cucumber shoots too.

Telur tebu in creamy soup of pumpkin.

  • 250 g pumpkin – cut into bite size
  • 3 stalks of  crushed serai (lemon grass)
  • 3 red chili padi
  • 2 tbs corn oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup milk


  1. Fry pumpkin till slightly brown.
  2. Simmer with 1 cup of water till pumpkin turns soft.
  3. Add 1 cup of milk with telur tebu,serai and chilies as well.
  4. The dish is ready once the milk starts boiling.
  5. Season with light soya source.

Enjoy the dish without rice.

Another option is to cook telur tebu in soup with cangkuk manis. The sweet and tasty cangkuk manis soup adds juice to the soft and tender texture of the telur tebu,thus enhances its flavour to a new level.

Telur tebu in cangkuk manis soup.



  •  5 stalks of telur tebu
  • 150 g  cangkok manis leaves – crush the leaves using both hands and then chop finely.
  • 2 tsp light soya source
  • 3 dry chilies
  • 1 cup of water


  1. Just fry chilli and add the cangkuk manis.Cangkuk manis should be shredded finely.
  2. Add 1 cup of water and let the soup boil for a few minutes.
  3. Add in the telur tebu which get cooked very fast.
  4. Season with light soya source.

Enjoy the soup with or without rice.

 Click here to find out more about ‘cangkuk manis’.Scroll down that page to view the photo.

Another simple and yet delicious way of cooking telur tebu is by boiling the flowers in milk or coconut milk for a few minutes and then pan-fry or grill them till slightly brown.

Pan-fried telur tebu
Pan-fried telur tebu

Indonesians and local malays deep-fry or cook telur tebu in masak lemak.Telur tebu can be one of the ingredients for our vegetarian curry together with coconut shoots.

Enjoy cooking this sugar cane flower and don’t forget to share with us your photos of great dish with telur tebu together with your comments.

   Yeah,lets cook telur tebu.

 Monkeys love them too,so do us! 


Bunga Kantan,the edible wild flower

Bunga Kantan aka torch ginger flower or torch lily is the most beautiful, wild and edible flower in the rainforest of Malaysia.The scientific name is Etlingera Elatior.

Bunga Kantan in full bloom
Bunga Kantan in full bloom


Well,according to wikipedia,its leaves have higher AOP than its flowers and roots.Hmmm…..,may be we should start munching the leaves.
‘Antioxidant properties(AOP) of its leaves are significantly stronger than flowers and rhizomes’ – wikipedia

Despite of the statement above,the flower of E.elatior,i.e. bunga kantan will continue enjoy its popularity as the most beautiful,edible flower by the Malaysian and Indonesian.Local dishes like assam laksa  and nasi kerabu will be incomplete without bunga kantan.

Bunches of Bunga kantan are sold in the market as wild flowers by our natives here in Sarawak.Though as wild as it can be,it can be easily grown in the garden.Some of us in the urban area grow this plant at the backyard of the house.


Left-Bunga kantan plants growing in my old neighbour's garden Right - Pink bunga kantan for sale at the market
Left-Bunga kantan plants growing in my old neighbour’s garden
Right – Pink bunga kantan for sale at the market

Most of the pictures are taken from my good neighbour Mung Ping’s garden.The flowers exhibit basically red colour of three shades,namely the pink,the red and the dark red variety.There is also a white variety of bunga kantan.


Red bunga kantan and dark red bunga kantan
Bunga kantan in different shades of red

 Bunga Kantan is widely used in cooking laksa and seafood dishes.Outer harder petals are discarded and only the reddish buds and the tender petals are used for cooking.

Left - picture showing younger buds inside the torch ginger flower Right - Cross secting cutting along the stem of the torch ginger flower
Left – picture showing younger buds inside the torch ginger flower
Right – Cross section cutting along the stem of the torch ginger flower

 Its slightly pungent but pleasant taste is very unique and there is no equivalent of it in any part of the world.Lemon grass and daun kesum may overshadow its taste and flavor if they are put in a pot together.

Stir-fried tempe with bunga kantan
Stir-fried tempe with bunga kantan

In one of the pictures shown is tempe cubes stir-fried with four-winged beans or any other beans,chilies and bunga kantan.The unique taste of bunga kantan adds extra flavor to this dish full of crunchy beans,and slightly browned nutty tempe cubes.

Tempe fried with bunga kantan – Recipe
  •   130 gm tempe(1 packet) – cut into small cubes.
  •   bunga kantan – one stem,sliced thinly
  •   2 four-winged beans or french beans – thinly sliced
  •     1 lime – cut into halves
  •     1 chili – sliced thinly
  •    seasoning – add light soya source to taste
  1. Stir-fry tempe until slightly brown.
  2. Add in chopped chilly,the sliced beans and  bunga kantan.
  3. Season with light soya source.
  4. Garnish with bunga kantan buds.
  5. Squeeze lime juice on the dish and enjoy!

    Bunga kantan cooked in Terung Dayak soup
    Bunga kantan cooked in Terung Dayak soup
Bunga kantan can be added to terung dayak soup cooked with kelp seaweed and chillies.Add miso and brown sugar to taste.
Terung dayak soup recipe
  • 350 gm of terung dayak (solanum ferox linn-sour eggplant)  – Cut into 6 or 8 equal parts
  • 1000 cc of water
  • 3 dry chilies
  • 1 bunga kantan
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbs light soya source
  • 10 gm of  vegetarian belacan or miso
  • 30 gm of  kelp seaweed  – Steam for 30 min.Then cut into rectangles and soak in water.Rinse thoroughly before cooking.Kelp prepared this way cook faster and becomes tender within minutes.
  1. Boil the terung dayak for 20-30 min or till soft.Discard the skin.
  2. Add in the belacan and dry chilies.
  3. Finally add in the kelp seaweed and bunga kantan.Boil for another 5 min.
  4. Season with light soya source.Can be served as mee hoon soup.

In the Bario highland of Sarawak,the kelabit people cook porridge with bunga kantan and meat.As for vegetarian,mushrooms and bunga kantan can be added to the porridge.Season it with light soya source and mushroom powder.